I’m going on about eating again. I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently, because my weight is back up and although I am trying to be alright about this (I’ve started dance classes, which is a nice reminder that my body does fun things) it is just past the point where anything I own is comfortable to wear. So I’m reminded daily.
Anyway, so I posted this plea for help to some friends earlier – forgive the cut and paste dump, but I am taking you on an emotional journey here. Or, a journey, anyway. Emotion optional.
What I find about diets is this. Either I vow to make general changes, like only small amounts of refined grains or added sugars, lots of whole vegetables and meat and legumes, which sounds great. But the problem with that approach is it is too vague and unquantifiable and I can’t record anything and there aren’t enough rules and therefore it doesn’t matter if I just eat a family packet of crisps tonight because How Do I Know That I’m Doing It Right?
The alternative is anything that does have rules. I’ve calorie counted, done whole30, done 5:2. I drop weight very fast, partly because I get into the whole rule structure and start competing with myself about how much better I can do. If a calorie plan says I should eat 1500 calories, well then I’ll eat 900! And then in a totally shocking plot twist I stop dieting and go back to crazy bingeing eating.
Diet is one of those questions that elicits All The Opinions, so that’s what I got. Some of them responded by recommending versions of those all-encompassing lifestyle diets where you get an entire meal plan and exercise regime laid out for you. Others suggested I take a tried-and-true like Weight Watchers and adapt it for my own needs. Others still said, look at the underlying causes of why you might overeat. Think about your food and be mindful about the pleasure and make sure it hits the right spot.
None of them appealed, because no matter what the approach was, they all had one thing in common: they required me to spend more time thinking about food.
Friends, I am tired of thinking about food. Belle’s website resonates with so many of us because she encapsulates this so well about alcohol. I’ve had a few relapse thoughts recently, just idle ‘I wonder if I could…’ thoughts, not helped by the holiday season and the swathes of people who keep asking me if I’m sure I don’t drink at ALL, and really, STILL sober huh? But what I remember every time is how boring and tedious and time consuming it was, thinking about drinking. And if I went back to any drinking at all, that would happen. Maybe I’d stick to one glass on a Saturday night. It’s unlikely, but one hears stories suggesting that it’s possible. But I’d only do so by exerting fierce self control all the time. I’d think about that one glass all week. I’d wonder, on a Thursday, whether it would be alright to have that glass on Friday instead this week because it’s been a hard week. And maybe I’d go back to drinking a bottle of wine a day and maybe I wouldn’t, but I know without the tiniest hint of a rumour that there might be a doubt in there somewhere that I would be back to thinking about drinking.
Not thinking about drinking has freed me up to think about so many other things. In the past twelve months I’ve taught myself to sew, and to knit, and I’m teaching myself carpentry at the moment, and that’s just the non-business side of my life. It is ridiculous, with so many amazing things to occupy our brains and our hearts, that we shoved them aside to think about whether we’ve had two drinks tonight and is a third reasonable, on a Monday?
So, no. It’s not worth the brain space, not something that mundane. And that’s how I feel about food at the moment. I want to eat when I’m hungry. I want to enjoy food for its own sake. I do not want to spend any more time thinking about it than I do. I don’t want to count points or calories or grams, I don’t want to meal prep or read ingredient lists to see if something contains a verboten substance. And I definitely do not want to sit with a single cookie and savour it, because seriously, I am an adult woman with better things to spend my time doing than romancing a baked good.
And that’s why, my friends, having no rules at all and just “embracing healthy eating” feels so hard! Because it means that I have to make a decision about everything I eat, every single time. Is this dried fruit what I really want; is it going to satisfy my craving; is there a better substitution I can make? Fucking exhausting. Mindful eating, even worse. Rules? Just as bad, or worse, or better, who even knows?
I feel like I should end this post with a fanfare – tarantara! – and an announcement of the solution. I don’t have a solution, though. I’m just tired of thinking about eating.